1) There are Big 12 apologists out there pushing the theory that the strength of the Big 12 caused the teams to be “worn down” by NCAA Tournament time. Frankly, that’s a bunch of BS. The Big 12 simply did not live up to their billing as the ‘best conference in America.’ The Big 12 went 3-4 in their first round games, while the ACC went 6-0, Pac 12 4-0, and the Big Ten 5-2. Add in the fact that two of their 4 losses were as 3 seeds to 14 seeds, and all in all it was a very embarrassing and disappointing weekend for the Big 12.
Sure, a one-and-done format does not take away everything the conference did and proved in the non-conference schedule (winning at an 83% clip). But, a 5-2 first round mark, and having at least 3 team reach the Sweet 16 would have been an ideal way to back up the ‘best conference’ mantra. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
2) Well, with the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament in the books, there were certain things I was right about, and certain ones I totally whiffed on. All season long I felt Kansas was over ranked, overrated, and that Bill Self had done the best coaching job during his Kansas tenure to lead this team to a Big 12 Championship. Also, Oklahoma State entered the Tournament losing six of seven, with a coach in Travis Ford that has one NCAA Tournament win on his resume, back during his first season (2009) in Stillwater. There was no first round spread that I felt better about than Oregon -1.5 vs. Oklahoma State.
3) Where I was wrong: I believed Baylor was a dark horse to make a Final 4 run. Damn. That sure didn’t work out. Yes, Baylor blew a big lead late against Georgia State, but in fairness Ron Hunter and his son RJ provided us with one of the greatest moments of the NCAA Tournament. So, I don’t feel as bad about it!
Also, I blew it with Texas. I thought the Longhorns, who had turned things around late in the season, and appeared to be playing some of their best basketball, put up a complete stinker in a loss to Butler (56-48 L). It’s amazing this team was thought to be the Big 12 preseason favorite, and at one point was ranked #6 in the country.
4) This leads me to Rick Barnes, who just finished his 17th, and most disappointing season since coming to Austin. I don’t like lobbying for anyone to lose their job, but if Texas AD Steve Patterson chose to go in a different direction, it would be very understandable. Remember, Barnes is not a Patterson hire, he is a leftover from the DeLoss Dodds regime. Barnes has not reached a Sweet 16 since 2008. In 17 seasons, he has five Sweet 16’s, which includes two Elite 8’s and one Final 4 (2003). For a University with their resources, along with the recruits Barnes has brought in, the resume leaves something to be desired.
5) As for another coach who might be feeling some heat: Oklahoma State’s Travis Ford. Ultimately, I don’t think he goes anywhere because of the often-discussed 10-year contract he’s currently in the middle of. But, once again, Oklahoma State stumbles down the stretch and loses their first game in the NCAA Tournament. Travis Ford still can claim just one NCAA Tournament victory since his arrival in 2008. One. Let that sink in. I hope he gives his agent a nice Christmas gift ever year. That may be the only reason he’s held onto his job.